Austin is a place where business professionals, artists, musicians, filmmakers and students all bring their passions to life. Even with its population growing rapidly, this city continues to welcome new residents with open arms. Over the past few years, several national magazines have touted Austin as a top place to live.
To experience "The Live Music Capital" of the world,
If you venture north on Red River Street, you'll find some of Austin's best live music venues. Emo's,
The Capitol Building
Built in 1856 and 1857, the
As you are heading south on
As you travel further on
Enjoy a number of musical, dance and theater events at the
Originally an African-American community half a mile outside of the city limits,
The strip of business along Guadalupe Street, bordering the
Take a leisurely walk or drive through this Central Austin neighborhood and view its historic homes. You will likely see many residents working in their yards, walking pets or riding bikes. Duval Road runs through the neighborhood and is home to the vegetarian restaurant Mother's Café and the popular
As the "Live Music Capital of the World," Austin hosts a variety of live music every night of the week. The multi-faceted arts scene offers traditional artwork alongside the avant-garde, and is growing as rapidly as the city itself. Filmmakers have taken an interest in Austin, realizing the town has more to offer than an attractive setting. The city is overflowing with creative and talented people ready to share and entertain.
Whether you are a music fan searching for that up-and-coming band, or a musician looking for the perfect sound, you can carve out your niche here. The music scene has something for everybody: blues, jazz, fusion, house/techno, pop/rock, noisepop, twee-pop, reggae, trip-hop, hip-hop, hard rock, country, Latino, classical, folk, experimental, garage and psychedelic. With 100 or more venues to choose from it may seem like a daunting task; for help, pick up The Chronicle, Austin's free weekly entertainment guide, and you will find information on all of the music venues and what acts will be gracing each stage.
Visit Stubb's, Red Eyed Fly, Antone's or Emo's to catch top local acts and independent touring musicians. For larger touring shows, check out La Zona Rosa, Austin Music Hall or the Stubb's amphitheater. Stop by Hole in the Wall for live music seven nights a week, or the Flamingo Cantina to sample a variety of bands. Live music in Austin is not limited to the club scene though; frequently musicians are found performing in record stores, coffee shops and art galleries.
The Austin Museum of Art hosts ten to twelve exhibitions annually, presenting significant 20th-century American visual art. Works by artists from Mexico and the Caribbean are also represented, as well as local and Texan artists.
The Austin Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria is a beautiful place to enjoy diverse artwork created by 20th-century artists from around the world. The Mediterranean-style villa that is home to the museum was built in 1916 and is surrounded by lush gardens and quiet paths. The Art School at Laguna Gloria is also on the grounds, offering classes for children and adults in sculpture, graphic arts, painting, jewelry-making and more.
For a multicultural Latin American experience visit the Mexic-Arte Museum, featuring three galleries that exhibit works from Mexic-Arte's permanent collection, along with touring and self-curated shows. The museum also presents theatrical, musical and performing arts events on weekends.
Sculptor Elisabet Ney moved to Austin in the late 1800s and built Formosa, her home and studio. This Greek/Gothic building, now the Elisabet Ney Museum, is dedicated to the life and works of the artist. Ney sculpted the figures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin that stand on the Texas State Capitol grounds today.
If it's a beautiful day in Austin, you must visit the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. Charles Umlauf's work is showcased here in the outdoor Xeriscape garden, where visitors linger by the pond. This casual setting is home to 62 bronze and cast pieces.
Austin offers big Broadway shows in legendary theaters like the Paramount Theatre or the University of Texas' Bass Concert Hall. For an interesting change of pace try the experimental, Off Broadway-type shows presented by one of the 70 theater companies thriving in Austin.
For original cutting-edge performances visit the Vortex Theatre in East Austin. Once an abandoned warehouse, this building has been converted into an intimate, comfortable, 80-seat venue that showcases contemporary theater, nationally known performance artists, multi-media performances, musical theater and ritual theater.
Visit the Dobie Theatre, located on the second floor of Dobie Mall on the University of Texas campus, for independent releases, the avant-garde and foreign films. If you are looking for a place where you can order great food and have it served to you while you take in a film, try the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, where visitors can catch old B-movies, historic silent films and more.
One of only three professional ballet companies in Texas, Ballet Austin showcases dancers from around the world. The company presents five seasonal ballets, including the popular Nutcracker every December. Ballet East is a community of dancers from many ethnic backgrounds, with a strong emphasis on Austin's Latino dancers.
Political satire is especially strong at Esther's Follies, a campy comedy venue located on East Sixth Street that has become part of the fabric of Austin. Just next door is the Velveeta Room, where local and visiting comic talents take the stage and try the outrageous. If you're looking for big-name comics, look no further than the Capitol City Comedy Club; nationally known comics like Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Foxworthy and Bobcat Goldthwait have all taken this stage in support of their art.
Austin has a history of burgeoning growth beginning with the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. Soon after the founding of the Republic of Texas, the second president, Mirabeau B. Lamar, felt a new seat for the government was in order - one named for Stephen F. Austin, founder of the Republic. Lamar sent Edwin Waller to survey the beautiful land off of the Colorado River to found the new capitol. The city was planned in a grid pattern that still maps the downtown area. Congress Avenue was the center street, with the north/south streets named for Texas rivers. The capital was officially moved to Austin in 1839, with 50 ox-drawn wagons transporting archives and furniture from the previous seat of government in Houston, Texas.
This newly established country continued to be part of the frontier. The fierce battles of the Mexican-American War marked the following decade, and there was an attempt to move the capital away from Austin. But the residents of the city made sure that even if the government chose to move further away from the war zone, the archives and records remained in the city. As a result of their efforts - known as the Archive War - Texas joined the United States in 1845 and Austin was named the state capital.
The 1850s saw a period of tremendous growth. The first limestone Capitol building, the Governor's Mansion and General Land Office Building were erected. In 1888, structural problems and a fire destroyed the original Capitol, but a new Texas State Capitol building, made of Hill Country granite, was completed to replace the burned structure. The Governor's Mansion is still in pristine condition, and the General Land Office is one of the state's oldest surviving office buildings.
While surveying for the City of Austin, Edwin Waller also laid out 40 acres for the University of Texas at Austin campus. Over 40 years later, construction began on the Main Building at the center of the site. In 1883, the west wing was completed in time for the first class of 221 students. But 35 years after the building was completed, discussions began for expanding the library facilities on campus. After great debate, plans were announced to destroy the old building in order to construct a new administration and library facility. That new building is now known as the University of Texas Tower, standing 307 feet tall and boasting one of the best views of the city from the observation deck. 1871 brought a new era of success to Austin with the Houston and Texas Central Railway. This line was one of the westernmost railroads in Texas and the only railroad for scores of miles. Today, visitors can ride those same rail lines on the Austin Steam Train.
The population boomed. Education became a secondary industry. In 1881 Austin, became known as a seat of education with the opening of Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute, now known as Huston-Tillotson College. Just four years later, St. Edward's University opened its doors.
The turn of the century brought even more success to the bustling town of Austin. Elisabeth Ney blessed the city with her talents as a sculptress and William Sidney Porter (also known as O. Henry) wrote his celebrated stories. By the 1920s, the city had acquired Barton Springs Pool, adopted a council-manager government, and drew up a new city plan that included a focus on beautification, parks and recreation.
The Great Depression was hard-felt among the Austin population, but the city continued to grow. In 1941, Mansfield Dam was completed, creating Lake Travis. This, combined with the development of the Highland Lake system, created a wonderful recreation site that still attracts throngs of people today.
The 1950s brought on the realization that the city could not continue its massive growth with only academia and government as an economic base. The Chamber of Commerce began to attract high-tech companies to the city. By the mid-seventies, three of the largest high-tech manufacturing companies had plants in Austin. In the 1980s, two major research consortiums, Microelectronics and Computer Technology and Sematech, had been brought to the city. Now, Austin is known as one of the high-tech centers of the United States, with offices for hundreds of high-tech companies.
Austin's volatile past has created an exciting environment for its residents. The explosive growth has brought more than just people; theater, museums, film, music and the arts have become prominent aspects of the Austin lifestyle. City planning has preserved greenbelts and parks so residents can have easy access to natural habitats. The lakes provide fantastic water sports during the day, and Sixth Street offers a nightlife of dining and dancing.
Austin offers plenty of accommodations for all types of travelers. Whether you are looking to be pampered in a spa resort, swept away by the charm of a bed and breakfast, or just need a room on a tight budget, you will find a comfortable place to stay.
Many of Austin's finest full-service luxury hotels are in and around the downtown area. The historic Driskill Hotel opened in 1886 and is still offering guests unique rooms and suites right on East Sixth Street, where all the hustle and bustle of the live music scene lies. After a 30 million dollar renovation, Sheraton Hotel offers quality accommodations with convenience to East Sixth Street, the Texas State Capitol and the Austin Convention Center.
The Four Seasons Hotel pampers its guests with phenomenal personal service. Offering access to the Hike and Bike Trail, Town Lake and the Austin Convention Center, this is a popular place to stay for movie stars, musicians, families and business professionals. The Radisson Hotel and Suites on Town Lake offers easy access to downtown as well as to the Congress Avenue Bridge, where Mexican free-tailed bats put on a show at dusk.
An overnight stay at one of Austin's spa resorts will completely revive your spirit. The Lake Austin Spa Resort is close to downtown, on the shores of Lake Austin, and offers three to seven-night refresher and pampering packages. Try a blue seaweed body wrap or take a gardening class. Many outdoor activities - including water-skiing, golf and sailing - are also available.
The Drag and Hyde Park
In the central part of town, DoubleTree Club Hotel is the perfect environment for business travelers. Guests are invited to use the well-lighted personal workstations, a private conference room and other business facilities. It is convenient to the University of Texas as well as the downtown area. Also close to the aforementioned places is Days Inn, which has a 24-hour café next door, where Austin's music and club scene meets after hours.
For the budget-minded traveler, the Rodeway Inn University offers clean, well-maintained rooms and is close to the University of Texas campus. Or try the Excel Inn, which is further south, but close to St. Edwards University and minutes from the downtown area.
If you are looking for a unique Austin experience, spend a few days in one of the many bed and breakfast establishments here. Brook House, located in central Austin, offers three rooms inside the main house, as well as a carriage house and private cottage out back. Wonderful breakfasts are served on the porch, which is full of antique tables and ceiling fans. For a healthy twist, try Healthy Quarters, a centrally-located 1930s cottage where refrigerators are stocked with organic produce. Here, guests have access to colon hydrotherapy treatments, electro-lymphatic therapy, flower essence therapy, ear candling and a variety of chiropractic treatments.